Written by Matteo Garrone, Maurizio Braucci, Ugo Chiti & Massimo Gaudioso

Cinematography by Marco Onorato

Production Design: Paolo Bonfini

Film Editing: Marco Spoletini

Costumes: Maurizio Millenotti

Music: Alexandre Desplat

Produced by Matteo Garrone & Domenico Procacci

Directed by Matteo Garrone




Aniello Arena

Loredana Simioli

Nando Paone

Nello Iorio 

Nunzia Schinao

Giuseppina Gervizzi

Rosaria D-Urso



Theatrical: Fandango, Rai Cinema & Le Pacte

Video: Oscilloscope Laboratories



Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC

Feature Size: BD50

Bit Rate: High (30-40 Mbps)

Runtime: 117 minutes

Chapters: 18

Region: All



Italian DTS-HD MA 5.1

Italian LPCM 2.0



English & French



• Interview with the Director (23:50)

  1. Inside Reality: Score, Special Effects, Production Design (9:00)

• Dreams Are My Reality (19:50)

  1. Profile of Aniello Arena (13:15)

• 4 Deleted Scenes (6:50)

• Original Theatrical Trailer


Grand Prix Festival de Cannes 2012

Critical Reaction:

Los Angeles Times

What might ringmaster-of-the-subconscious Fellini have done with the peculiar phenomenon of reality TV? The gifted Italian filmmaker Matteo Garrone (the excellent "Gomorrah") gives us his own magically eccentric homage of sorts to that hypothetical with the psychologically astute, dreamlike gut-punch that is "Reality." Predicated on the idea that the promise of 15 minutes of fame is as treacherous a mental minefield as instant celebrity's fizzled aftermath, Garrone gives us Napoli fishmonger Luciano (Aniello Arena), urged by his kids to try out for the reality show "Big Brother." But Luciano's confident anticipation that he'll be accepted triggers a slide into beatific, reverse-Orwellian paranoia: He begins to "perform" his life as if already under 24-hour surveillance. – Robert Abele



The Guardian

For his latest film, showing in competition in Cannes, Matteo Garrone has brought back a couple of actors from his gutwrenching true-life mafia drama Gomorrah — but the tone and feel is very different. This is a boisterous, watchable satire on reality television and real values. . . As in numberless big-screen accounts of the small-screen, the keyword is irony. The delusions of people who long to be on TV are ironic and pretty sad — of course. Playing up for a TV audience is a chimera, a dangerous unreality, compared with having an actual relationship with your family and community. In Gomorrah, the idea of "community" was a challengingly dark and complex one, riven with parasitism and violence. Here, community values are much sunnier and simpler, and the scam Luciano's running on the side is naturally pretty much a victimless crime. Of course, this is a very different film, but it is one which is concerned to tell us what we knew already. Well, there is a very winning central performance from newcomer Aniello Arena as Luciano, who has a sharp, calculating and very mobile, open face, which registers every jolt of fear, of hope, of triumph and dismay: the face of a would-be comedian who can do everything but make people laugh. – Peter Bradshaw



LensView: 8

You know how advertising marquees right away point out the filmmakers’ previous credits, presumably to give us an inkling of their worth, but also to suggest: If you liked those efforts, you’ll like this one. Well, in this case that previous feature would be the gritty gangster film Gomorrah, which if anything would give us a completely misguided notion of what we might expect from Reality, a Fellini-esque look at hopes, dreams, obsession, religion and television.


The tag line – the one we see on the poster is: “Follow your dreams,” which, I should caution, is meant to be ironic. On the other hand, it’s definitely the thrust of everyone’s advice to Luciano (Aniello Arena), a fishmonger and part time scam artist, who lives in Naples with his wife (Loredana Simioli), children and – well, I’m never exactly sure who else, such is the way with many extended families. Luciano also has a rather peculiar talent as a clown. When the film opens he and his family are guests at the most glamorous, the most ostentatious wedding I’ve ever have seen in my life - and I’ve covered hundreds as a photographer. Luciano dresses up in comical drag and accosts the main entertainment of the evening: Enzo (Raffaele Ferrante), a former contestant from the hugely popular reality television show “Big Brother.” It doesn’t matter what the show’s about or how it works, the filmmakers don’t really go there - the reality lies elsewhere. Neither Enzo nor the guests are particularly amused but Luciano’s antics delights his family. Some days later they encourage Luciano to try out for an audition to be a character on the show. At first he is not interested, but once Luciano gets to Cinecittà for the interview he is at once seduced by the bling-bling, the celebrity, the money now quite literally in reach. Curiously, he never gave it a thought at the wedding.



Luciano becomes convinced of his chances to win the role. As the weeks before the announcement drag on he begins to feel the audition is still in progress: he believes that innocuous persons he notices out of the corner of his eye are observing his behavior to see if he has the right stuff to be on the show. He alters his behavior accordingly. He gives away things instead of trying to steal them. In one of the film’s most palpably heartbreaking scene Luciano comes up to two old women at a mausoleum and, taking them for representatives of the the studio, implores them for advice about how to handle himself while he waits. In an earlier scene so funny it hurts, Luciano has made his way by air vent to catch Enzo at his toilet to ask him what his real chances are. Meanwhile, his family, once his most ardent supporters, are now worried about Luciano’s sanity as she sees her home decimated by Luciano’s philanthropy.


To return to the theme of my opening: You know how some movies begin: “Based on a True Story.” Well, the truth here is that Reality has layers of truth that so-called “true stories” only scratch the surface of. It is Aniello Arena’s first feature film appearance, and after he finished filming he returned to where he hd been living for the previous twenty years, as a guest of the state serving a life term for murder. And, as Jill Lawless reminds us in her Huffington Post article about the film’s Cannes Festival premiere, Incarceration – mental rather than physical – is a theme of the movie. In a way, incarceration is THE theme of the movie. It is a space in our minds where we are vulnerable to celebrity, to fortune and to the living death many of us spend in front of television sets and our various mobile devices.


Remember the two-part episode titled The Menagerie from the original Star Trek series, and how Captain Christopher Pike, suffering from a condition - brought on by trauma in his case - not unlike that of Stephen Hawking’s amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, though far more debilitating. Pike is presented as a man kept alive by machine. He is fully conscious, which, in his case, isn’t portrayed as necessarily a good thing. In the end he elects to live in a fantasy consciousness constructed by the Talosians. Evidently that episode in particular has always had a certain appeal, in part due to the magnetic presence of Susan Oliver; fans speak of it in reverential tones. It is a world that Luciano eventually finds himself, a world he lets himself slip into willingly, eagerly, and, in the end, unconsciously.



Image: 7/8

Director Matteo Garrone, Production Designer Paolo Bonfini and Cinematographer Marco Onorato have cooked up perhaps the most vivid color palette for any modern movie this side of Sukiyaki Western Django no doubt in order to point the finger at bling in all its ugliness. Unhappily it all makes for an equally unpleasant visual experience, especially in daylit scenes such as the wedding that opens the movie. Blacks are crushed, colors are saturated beyond bleeding and filtered green. I suspect this is deliberate since it makes a certain dramatic sense (the saturation, not the green) and there are as many scenes elsewhere where the color is not enhanced. The transfer appears to be without problems. Grain is evident, noise is under control, though there times where it is deliberately applied for dramatic effect. My score of “7” indicates my feeling about the image in subjective terms as much as the accuracy of the transfer.


Onorato’s framing is unusual and key to the film’s emotional impact. The aspect ratio is extreme widescreen which appears even wider when Aniello Arena is shot in close-up. There are long stretches where Arena’s face (I kept thinking: Sylvester Stallone younger and lighter, with a touch of Travis Bickle on the one hand and Stan Laurel on the other) fills the frame vertically off-center, often in profile, with considerable area to one side or the other a blurred background, previously made clear in master shots. Arena or the camera will turn slowly left or right as we see his internal process reflected in the actor’s revealing face. It’s a daring move on the part of the director to trust his actor and photographer to such lengths of time and space and it pays off since it is Luciano’s internal state that it is in such conflict with the “real” world.



Audio & Music: 9/8

Oscilloscope offers two Italian tracks in uncompressed audio: a DTS-HD MA 5.1 and Stereo LPCM. The latter is “cut” at a higher level but once both are adjusted the surround comes off astonishingly well considering the absence of Hollywood money, especially in the dance club scene where that familiar cavernous effect is particularly well managed with lots of threatening LFE. Dialogue is always clear and appropriately scaled for the scene. Alexandre Desplat’s fascinating score, reminiscent of Danny Elfman’s Edward Scissorhands, makes unusual use of wordless voices to complement his orchestra.



Extras: 8

In place of an audio commentary Oscilloscope includes an interesting selection of bonus features - all very much worth our time, all looking at the film from different perspectives, all in HD, though often upscaled.

You might start with the Interview with Director Mateo Garonne, who talks about how he came to this project after the gritty realism of Gomorrah and how it was inspired by similar events that happened to someone he knew, his choice of composer and casting, especially Aniello Arena, and his approach to filming this movie. “Inside Reality” looks a little too briefly at the music, special effects and overall production design. Dreams Are My Reality is an unguided 20-minute behind-the-scenes look at production. I liked how the camera pulls back from a scene to reveal the camera, lighting and sound crews.


It is very likely that the actor Aniello Arena is unknown to you. He was to me. In the Profile, Armando Punzo, the artistic director of the Volterra Teatro Festival talks about his acquaintance with the star of Reality from his years as an actor in the prison theatrical company where Arena serves his sentence. Arena continues the segment with comments of his own. Fascinating!  Of the four Deleted Scenes the most interesting is Luciano’s interview at Cinecittà. This folder is a good place for it, for while we missed his interview at that point in the movie, it makes much more sense to have left it out of the finished film. Here you get to see why Luciano was so impressed with himself - or not. A point off for there being no Play All function for the four deleted snippets.



Recommendation: 8

Following Gommorah, Mateo Garrone’s 2008 bloody, prize-winning film about the Italian Mafia, Reality begins as a satirical comedy and gradually morphs into an interior darkness of its own. It’s brilliant, understated star, Aniello Arena, is a unique find. Hard to say if we will have a chance to see him another film after this one. It all depends on the judge. Warmly recommended.


Leonard Norwitz

© LensViews

August 13, 2013

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